In the early years of the nineteenth century Elswick was a small township outside the medieval town walls of Newcastle. A cart road ran along the riverbank, used mainly by farmers taking produce to the growing urban centre. Steeply wooded banks sloped down to the river from Elswick Hall and its grounds. In the river, from which salmon were fished, the straggling island of King’s Meadow divided the waters on their way to Tynemouth and the sea.
It was in this environment that William, later Lord Armstrong, developed what was to become one of the most famous engineering, armaments and shipbuilding complexes in the world.
Armstrong was not the first to see the potential of this land. Richard Grainger, the developer responsible for much of the appearance of Victorian Newcastle, saw the opportunity to lay out an early ‘trading estate’. To this end he sculptured the eastern end of this site into gently sloping meadows ready for the building of manufacturing units, and created a network of wide roads leading to the river. Although the scheme never came to fruition, the concept was a hundred years ahead of its time.
When the industrial use of this land came to an end in the 1900s when the site was acquired by Newcastle City Council. The Council promoted an alternative non industrial use for the site and encouraged the development of the prestigious Newcastle Business Park. This initiative by Developments (Tyne & Wear) Ltd and the Tyne & Wear Urban Development Corporation has once more brought employment and activity to this historic site. For over 150 years the history of this riverside has been forged by people of vision. ”